Today, April 20, the contract between Nike and Kobe Bryant ends, marking the end of an 18-year long partnership. According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant’s estate have not renewed their contract with Nike, which expired this month.
At 6:36 AM today I received a text:
“Vanessa Bryant did not renew contract. Kobe and Nike are done.”
I’ve been working since to confirm what this means ahead for the Nike / Kobe Bryant partnership.
As of right now — there is no ongoing contract for future Kobe releases. pic.twitter.com/5vuyQg6Gw6
— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) April 19, 2021
According to DePaula’s tweet, it’s not clear what this means for future Kobe retros and how exactly Nike will navigate releases that were meant to fall under the Kobe line. Crucially, his tweet confirms that there are no plans for future Kobe releases.
The end of Kobe Protros?
Currently, it looks like Nike and Kobe’s estate have no plans to produce more Kobe sneakers. According to Fox, Nike will release the last of Kobe shoes – the ‘Hall of Fame’ Nike Kobe 6 – later this year. No mention on Fox however about the other Kobe protros meant to drop later this year such as the 3D Lakers and the Orange County. More than ever, you shouldn’t sleep on the remaining Kobe x Nike drops.
Potentially, Nike could follow in the footsteps of what Adidas did in 2003 when Kobe left the German sportswear brand —rename some of his most iconic sneakers to keep them on shelves. For example, his Audi TT-inspired Kobe 1 was renamed the Crazy 1 when it was retro-ed in 2006.
However, many of Kobe’s designs with Nike has his Black Mamba insignia and his signature on the heel. These design elements may have to be removed which could make all future retros noticeably different from OG Kobes.
Nike has released a statement following the announcement of their split.
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers. He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”
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